Prospect Previews: Week Six
Today, March 12th, we are just 23 days away from the first radio broadcast of TinCaps baseball this season. Fitting, I think, to mention radio, because on March 12th, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt held his first “fireside chat”, which focused on the banking crisis of that time. Although the importance of what I’ll be talking about on the radio this season won’t be nearly as high as what the president was discussing, I can confirm that our audio quality has advanced in the 80 years since his first of 30 radio addresses.
Wouldn’t it be nice if radio still had the same power as a medium as it did back then? The entire family gathered ’round the hearth with their attention solely focused on the silky smooth voice emanating from the AM radio…
I’d love to think I could capture attention like that, although I imagine more of my audience ends up like this on a given night:
I’m kidding, of course. I’m glad to have each and every person along for the ride when I take the air each night. It sure is interesting to think how radio has persevered through the years, though. I had the good fortune of hearing Steven Portnoy, a national correspondent for ABC News Radio, speak at a banquet a few weekends ago. We were in Syracuse, New York, at our alma mater, Syracuse University, for the annual alumni banquet of our college radio station, WJPZ, and Steven was the keynote speaker. His message centered around the medium of radio, and how despite the changing times and shift toward the internet and television that our culture seems to have made, there is no substitute for the intimacy of radio. He used the example of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the east coast back in November. When people lost power and couldn’t get information online or from TV, they turned to radio and that became their lifeline.
And beyond that, he spoke to how people connect with certain voices and personalities on radio. For me, I am a loyal listener of NPR’s This American Life, because I want to hear what stories host Ira Glass will have to share with me this week. I like to listen to The Moth podcast, which features different storytellers each week, who bring their stories to life in front of an audience. One of my favorite stories is this one by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he details a competition he had to fit the words “perverse and often baffling” into The Washington Post as many times as possible:
There’s a connection that you can make with the theater of the mind through radio, that you can’t get anywhere else. That was a great refresher for me to hear, and it’s a thought I’ll carry with me into this coming season, especially when it comes to storytelling.
Speaking of broadcasting, I was in Cincinnati this past Saturday to call the last regular-season Big East game of the year for the University of South Florida and the University of Cincinnati. Quite a lot of fun, especially considering one of my former teammates, Sean Kilpatrick, is the leading scorer for UC. We played together for a few seasons at White Plains High School, and he was a significantly better player than I was. We had some fun showing that disparity on the broadcast:
On Sunday I caught another pretty good game up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, watching Indiana sneak out of Crisler Arena with a win and a Big Ten title:
All in all, a great sports weekend. Now let’s talk baseball:
It’s not often that you come across an Ivy League-educated player in baseball, as so many players that end up being drafted come from power baseball conferences like the SEC or the ACC, or come from the west coast. O’Dowd, who is the son of Colorado Rockies General Manager Dan O’Dowd, was selected in the 25th round by the Padres last June out of Dartmouth College.
“O’Dowd was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America selection in 2010. The switch-hitter hit .384 that year with a .664 slugging percentage. A first-team All-New England pick as a sophomore, O’Dowd hit .300 with a .417 on-base percentage over his final 17 games in 2012. He also led the team in stolen bases with eight.
The Cherry Hills Village, Colo., native boasts a .315 career batting average, .408 on-base percentage and .505 slugging percentage in three seasons at Dartmouth. He is one of three catchers in the Padres’ 2012 Draft haul, joining Oklahoma City University backstop Dane Phillips, who was taken 70th overall, and Puerto Rican high schooler Christian Munoz, a Bethune-Cookman commit.”
O’Dowd, who is a switch-hitter, played briefly for Fort Wayne last year, joining the roster on August 28. In three games he went 1-for-6, walking three times and striking out once. With a new crop of catchers coming in, it looks like if he were to return to Fort Wayne, it would be in a backup role in 2013.
It doesn’t appear that there have been all too many baseball players that have been selected five times in the draft. I found one notable story, that of Matt Harrington, in which the pitcher was selected five times and never signed, leaving nearly five million on the table.
For Kyle Ottoson, though, it appears the fifth time was the charm. He signed with the Padres last summer after they selected him in the 34th round and played both in the rookie-level Arizona League and with short-season Eugene of the Northwest League.
Here’s his draft history:
2008 (Eaton (CO) High School) – 39th round, Rockies
2009 (South Mountain Community College) – 36th round, Yankees
2010 (South Mountain Community College) – 48th round, Phillies
2011 (Arizona State University) – 24th round, Nationals
2012 (Oklahoma State University) – 34th round, Padres
A little background on being drafted so many times, courtesy of a story on current Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner, who was drafted four times:
“Getting drafted four times is not a record but still far from ordinary. Before Major League Baseball revamped its amateur selection process in 1987, a secondary draft took place in January in addition to the primary draft in June, which helped inflate the selections of some players. Under those rules, at least two players — Luis Medina, who played with the Indians in 1988-89 and 1991, and Pete Varney, who played with the White Sox and Braves in the ’70s — were drafted seven times each.
Among active players who have reached the majors, there are at least four who have been drafted four times each according to research done by Major League Baseball: Cashner; his Padres teammate Alex Hinshaw; former Blue Jay and Cardinals pitcher Brian Tallet who is currently with the Padres’ Triple A team; and Antoan Richardson, who plays for the Orioles’ Triple A team after having a cup of coffee with the Braves last year.”
Ottoson had a stellar high school career at Eaton High School in Colorado, where he went 34-3. After two years in junior college at South Mountain Community College and then a year at Arizona State, he decided to transfer. He said:
“It’s just a new change. Oklahoma State is more of a farming, agricultural area. It’s more country, and I kind of like that because that’s kind of where I came from (in Eaton). It will be a nice change of scenery.”
In his one season at Oklahoma State, he started 11 games and worked a 4-7 record with a 3.86 ERA. In one news article, Ottoson is referred to with the old baseball cliche of “crafty left-handed pitcher“. The thing with that is, when’s the last time you’ve ever heard of anyone referred to as a craft right-handed pitcher? Answer: never. Why not just say he has average velocity and works the zone well? That’s a cliche that’s gotta go…but that’s for another day.
Anyhow, he does throw four pitches–a fastball, changeup, slider and knuckle-curve.
Last season he went 0-2 with a 4.36 ERA between the Arizona League and Eugene, starting five of his 12 appearances.
Last year’s primary backstop, Austin Hedges, was hailed as the next great thing it terms of defense behind the plate. Not only did he deliver as a receiver, but he also swung a pretty good bat, hitting 10 home runs. Dane Philips, who the Padres selected 70th overall last year (two spots behind Jeremy Baltz) is said to be a great offensive catcher, too.
After two seasons of college ball at Oklahoma State, he attempted to transfer to Arkansas but was ruled ineligible to play right away. That forced him to NAIA school Oklahoma City University, where he hit .410 with 14 home runs. Philips also had a .762 slugging percentage last season, albeit against a lower level of competition, facing NAIA teams.
Then-Padres Director of Scouting Jaron Madison, who has since been replaced by Billy Gasparino after leaving for a similar position with the Cubs, had this to say of Philips and Jeremy Baltz:
“[Baltz and Phillips] both have feel to hit, they both have raw power, and we see future power production out of both of those guys. They can both really hit.”
Philips played his entire first pro season with Eugene, hitting .226 in 69 games. He hit four home runs and drove in 30, while compiling a .327 on-base percentage.
At the near-height of baseball my baseball nerdiness is the fact that I enjoy reading Minor League Baseball transactions. I am OK with admitting that. It’s fun to see which teams picked up Player X, or to think about why Player Y might have been released. Reading those transactions is something that only the biggest minor league fan or broadcaster would enjoy, because otherwise it’s just a bunch of names being strewn across the universe of Minor League Baseball.
Last June, the Padres made a move that evaded even my keen eye. Here it was, from Baseball America:
San Diego Padres
Signed: LHP Mark Picca (released by Mets)
He was originally selected by the Mets in the 41st round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Texas-Arlington. (That’s the Mavericks, not the Longhorns) At UT-A he went 4-10 with a 7.96 ERA.
The first year of his professional career with the Kingsport (Tenn.) Mets saw him work to a 1-1 record and a 3.70 ERA in 18 relief appearances. He was released then released by the Mets and signed by San Diego on June 11th of last summer. From that time on, as a member of the Eugene Emeralds, he earned to a 4-2 record and a 4.19 ERA, striking out 36 and walking 12 in 43 innings.
Picca, if he makes it to Fort Wayne, could be another lefty arm out of Jose Valentin’s bullpen.
It’s time for professional baseball surname trivia…Last season between the majors and minors, how many players had the last name Reyes?
If you guessed C, congratulations! You’ve won…nothing, unfortunately. However, you’ve gotten one step closer to knowing something about Genison Reyes.
That also means you know one more thing that most people know about him. There’s not a lot of info out there on the 6″5″, 190 lb. righty from the Dominican Republic. However, we do know that he was a participant in the Padres prospect mini-camp last month, meaning he was just one of 38 farmhands to get the early call to spring training, which is a good omen.
In his two years of pro baseball his earned run total has been a little high, giving him a 5-8 record with a 6.69 ERA (60 ER in 80 2/3 IP). Last year was his first at Eugene, where he went 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA, striking out 38 and walking 22 in 38 innings. He made 16 total appearances from mid-June to late-August, and also started three games.
As always, thanks for reading.
Later this week John Nolan will bring you part two of his series examining which former TinCaps have a chance of making the majors.